Kyari’s Death, COVID-19 and National Unity

Ebere Onwudiwe

By Ebere Onwudiwe

The death of Abba Kyari (may he rest in perfect peace) has occasioned many commentaries in the press and social media, with some vilifying and some lauding him. What transcends it all is that the passing of the Chief of Staff of President Muhammadu Buhari presents Nigeria with a unifying opportunity.

Regardless of what one thinks of Kyari, what is beyond dispute is that he died in the service of the country. He contracted Coronavirus during a visit to Germany to negotiate the development of electric power in Nigeria. What is also indisputable is that he was a very powerful figure in Buhari’s administration.  Some say that he was effectively the country’s prime minister.

The loss of such a powerful figure at a time the country is fighting a deadly virus is an opportunity for re-focusing. President Buhari, in particular, can combine the loss and the challenge to inspire Nigerians to greater commitment to national unity. The president can begin with the appointment of a Chief of Staff that all Nigerians can identify with.

As the unfortunate death of Abba Kyari should teach, the rampaging COVID-19 shows that ultimately, we have no one to run to but ourselves. That is why our top political leaders must use his sacrifice (he died in the service of the country) as an opportunity to promote unity and shared responsibility across the land.

One simple way to achieve this is to create a more general sense of fairness and justice.  Job one for the President, even as he battles our main enemies – Boko Haram and COVID-19 – is to commence a monthly series of national broadcasts that convey clear and caring signals of fairness and justice, hope and solidarity to all citizens. This type of soft power can be projected by the President in different national attire each time, as was done during the political campaigns that brought him to power.

Nigeria no longer needs the hammer of incivility promoted by many of us, from political sycophants to social media warriors. It is time to use the influence of soft power suggested above to win the hearts and minds of all Nigerians. The President needs the resultant peace and harmony to support his work of nation-building and development.

The havoc wrought by COVID-19 may include an emerging economic recession that is likely to test the bonds that tie us together. It is not too soon to start to remind Nigerians that togetherness is the surest way to survive.

With this in mind, those monthly broadcasts should also remind Nigerians – especially those elites who thrive on ethnic, regional and religious identity manipulation– to give national unity a chance, because the success of this administration may be judged on how much it has done to make post-COVID-19 Nigeria a more robust and resilient African giant. It was in pursuit of this goal that Abba Kyari went to Germany, a pursuit in which he lost his life. –

– Apr. 20, 2020 @ 12:39 GMT |

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